Kylie Eaton is a genre filmmaker with a passion for fantasy, science fiction, and all things other-worldly. From post-production assistant to freelance editor and director, she has been in LA for just over a decade – originally hailing from central Illinois. Eaton prides herself on her strong visual style, her commitment to story, as well as her experience in shooting for visual effects.
Kylie’s feature screenplay Kinetic was a finalist in the 2019 ScreenCraft Sci-Fi and Fantasy Screenplay Contest. Her narrative short film debut, 43 Quintillion premiered in 2018 at MidWest Weird Fest, and went on to collect several accolades, including best drama short at the 2018 Sioux Empire Festival. Her latest short film, Dispel, stars Eris Baker from This Is Us and features Gina Torres of Suits and Firefly fame. The fantasy short film won best fantasy short at Comicpalooza 2019, and recently premiered in Los Angeles at the LA Shorts International Film Festival in July, with additional screenings at Indy Shorts and Bronze Lens Film Festival in August. Kylie is also a member of the Alliance of Women Directors.
We had a chance to catch up with Kylie and ask her about some of her recent success. Her answers are below.
ScreenCraft: Congrats on your recent premiere! When did you know this was a short you wanted to make and how did the team come together?
Kylie Eaton: Dispel came to life when two ideas collided to make one greater idea. I wanted to tell a story about a young girl dealing with difficulties at home, as well as honor the impact that sci-fi and fantasy films had in my childhood.
After writing the script, I sent it out to potential collaborators, along with some beautiful concept art created by Karla Ortiz. I looked for women at the top of their respective fields and was lucky enough to build a team of strong female filmmakers – from Producer Julia Kennelly to Composer Jesi Nelson, from Costume Designer Bree Perry to Cinematographer Natalie Kingston… and many more talented women. They each brought their own talent and ideas into Dispel.
The first two actors I approached regarding Dispel were very enthusiastic about coming on board. Eris Baker (This Is Us) plays the main role of Lizzie. She brought so much life to the character. Her dedication to the process and the ideas she came up with for Lizzie were an absolute inspiration. Meanwhile, I had Gina Torres (Pearson, Suits, Firefly) in mind from the start when writing the role of Celeste Skygood. I was honored that she agreed to bring Celeste to life. My job was pretty easy from there – since Gina is my real life superhero!
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SC: What was your writing and rewriting process like? How many drafts did it take you to get to the final draft?
KE: I love the rewriting process on a short film – mostly because it’s so much more contained than a feature length script. We only went through about four drafts.
As a writer and director, I am able to shape the script during the pre-production process. I love to see what actors come up with in auditions and rehearsals, so that often re-shapes the dialogue. Once I find a location, I’m usually inspired by something in the space that will jog a new story idea.
I find it helpful for myself and my team to put together a final shooting draft usually a day or two before production starts. I believe my stories are stronger if I integrate the input of my creative team, my actors, and the inspiration I find in locations down onto paper.
SC: Have screenwriting competitions helped your writing career in any way? If so, how?
KE: ScreenCraft has been an amazing experience in particular. The feedback from readers is incredibly useful. I live by the rule that if two or more people make the same note, I should take a look at whatever story point they’re commenting on. I love that ScreenCraft offers feedback at each level of the competition you make it to. There’s also nothing like the confidence boost of being a competition finalist!
Learn everything you need to know about screenwriting contests, competitions and fellowships with this free guide.
SC: What are some pieces of advice that you’ve learned along the way that you wish someone would have told you sooner?
KE: First, put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’ve got a story idea or a script, start showing it to people. Ask collaborators to come on board. Find actors who are passionate about the story you want to tell. Even if you’re not ready to go into production, having a table read with talented actors can be hugely beneficial for a rewrite. It’s amazing how many people just want to be involved with a story that speaks to them… but you’ll never know until you start sharing your work.
Secondly, listen to your own voice. It’s your most valuable asset. There are thousands of other screenwriters with just as much talent and dedication, but the one thing no one else in the world has is your unique voice. All of your life experiences have added up into who you are today, and are the best thing you can bring into your script. It’s basically a different take on “write what you know”… Instead, “write what you feel.”
SC: What’s your next project?
KE: I’m finishing up rewrites on the sci-fi feature that landed me as a finalist in the ScreenCraft competition, and I’m in post-production on a new short. I’ve got some feature ideas bubbling away in me as well. Once things have calmed down around the Dispel premiere, I’ve got new worlds to explore and bring to life.
Watch Dispel below.